What we take for granted

Do you get frustrated when the bus or train is late, or all the roads are clogged, and you have to sit in car queues waisting your valuable time? One of the reasons I use my bike whenever the weather allows, is that I don’t like to wait to get going. I want to decide the pace and arrival time myself.

When looking at photographs from my ancestor’s time in China – they first arrived in 1867 – I’m amazed at the amount of patience they must have had. My grandmother used to tell me about their dangerous travels in the chinese countryside, with wagons that got stuck in the mud, robbers threatening their lives and weeks on the road just to spend a few days at home from the boarding school each year.

Listening to my grandmother’s bed time stories, I thought she might just have twisted it a bit – to make it more exciting… But pictures don’t lie – at least not pictures taken 100 years ago.

Getting ready to leave the missionary station.
These will be put on the back of mules.
Stuck in the mud.
Trying to get a carrige aboard a flat boat, travelling across the Yangtze river.
Another, a bit more crowded boat…

At least, I’m not going to complain about transport again… 🙂

7 thoughts on “What we take for granted

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  1. Wow, those are great photos! They provide such an interesting glimpse into daily life. Or at least, into the difficulty of travel, which was an important part of life. Getting around is so much easier today. Not without risk, of course, but so convenient compared to wagons, mules and riverboats!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you! I’m so happy they exist! And I find it very special that they were taken, it’s almost like snapshots from the beginning of the photography era (today we almost expect photos like this from travelling, but perhaps it was not all that common during the end of the 19th century).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think it was common at all. In the West, people tended to photograph things that were important to them–their family, their house, their animals–but not so much these “slice of life” scenes, which have a documentary quality.

      Liked by 1 person

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